A lush, wanderlust-soaked collection of dreamy pop arrangements, Everything Else is Noise marks the sixth major release from Atlanta’s critically-acclaimed Quiet Hounds. Compared to its melancholy predecessor, 2017’s Characteristics of Living Things, the ever-mysterious and evolving quartet’s latest offering is a train running on more confident rails--upbeat, full-blooded and restless.
The album is anchored by the epic, mesmerizing “River Delta”, describing the growing distance between two individuals and the delta that separates two meandering paths. The gentle cadence of a Springsteen shuffle carries the whimsical counter melodies, echoing the likes of Paul Simon in an unlikely spawn birthed from another dimension--a wall of sound breaking like waves on a beach.
Then there’s the most audacious album opener, “Antioch”, calling upon a more modern interpretation of the Beatles’ fab four-era harmonies. Sonically, the track presents something more akin to the drawn out soundscapes of Tame Impala -- summoning rollicking, rhythmic attacks when a roar seems more appropriate than a bite. Its patient build at each intersection lays the backdrop for lead singer Eric Toledo’s haunting, layered vocal maneuvers.
“Our process isn’t thematically mature until the song -- or the record -- tells us what it wants to be about,” remarks Toledo. “‘Antioch’ was definitely the catalyst for the record as a whole, and got us really excited about where it would take us sonically.”
In this inner monologue, Toledo plays out his anxiety, pining for a life of simplicity, exploring vulnerability in the information age, and projecting a hopeful future of enlightened bliss.
“Perhaps it’s a pervasive human condition, but now more than ever, constant reflection keeps me from the now,” says Toledo. “In our time of noise and distraction, living in the now is the only truth.”
Over the course of the record, the band stays true to simplistic song structures, opting for linear progressions and expanding on sonic fabrications with analog synths to augment its fibrillating pulses & epic soundscapes. There is a consistent, thematic throughline, much like acts in a play:
The violent fall of Antioch / A rushing roaring river delta / Never ending ladders / Hidden amongst the chamber sounds / From afar daring greatly / Her supine kiss / Distracted and neurotical
While these tracks can be enjoyed in isolation and can certainly stand on their own, this deliberate contextualization of each song stitches the collection together--the sum of its parts blossoming into something more; a deeply introspective concept album exploring essentialism and existentialism in relation to the human condition.
Everything Else is Noise began to take shape in the summer of 2018, in the comfort of the spacious 800 East studios nestled in Atlanta’s Inman Park. Opting for spontaneous collaboration over any pre-planned orchestration, the band collected for the day with whatever instruments they could get their hands on, crafting a dozen concepts in a day-long session that would serve as the bedrock of compositions over the course of the next year.
Final production took place in the home studio of producer & multi-instrumentalist Deke Spears, who found himself holing up in his basement for months at a time, struggling through severe asthematic conditions through the spring and summer seasons of 2019. Spears ultimately found resilience and healing in the sounds that would shape the dynamic for the collection as a whole.
“Every time I make a record I learn more about who I am and what I am capable of,” says Spears. “With Everything Else is Noise, I pushed myself into unexplored sonic places, blending my 60s and 70s fundamental thinking with modern textures. I think it has turned out to be an eclectic and inspired work.”
In the end, Everything Else is Noise is a cinematic soundscape that sends time periods and genres into oblivious collision at each turn and transition, all the while never forgetting its melodic roots and simple, time-tested sensibilities. This is without a doubt a new high water mark in the evolution of Quiet Hounds, and bodes well for what’s to come for this beloved Atlanta band.